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Former JSpace insider says ‘group-think’ overtakes evaluating serious concerns about Israel’s security

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JSpace Canada is often invited to speak at events like the Stratford Festival, but never to denounce the Palestinian Authority paying Jew-killing terrorists (Photo: Facebook)

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Introduction

“Progressive Jews: Over Time, An Insidious Influence?” In answer, I would say yes.

They not only acknowledge the narrative of the Palestinians but also adopt whole-heartedly as morally equivalent to the Jewish narrative and quest for Zion.

In their quest, they adopt the current politically trendy tool of moral equivalence of the two narratives, over-identify with the adversary’s narrative, deny Zionism, the true indigeneity of Jews to the land and never ever criticize the Palestinians or the Palestinian Authority. 

There are many policies of the Authority to criticize but on most, if not all, progressives are silent.  They have not, to my knowledge, ever called out the P.A. on the slay-for-pay policy, its deeply anti-Semetic education curriculum implemented from the earliest age.

As a former member, I have asked them to do so in a press release and they have not. It is not about my request.  It is about fairness, balance and calling both sides to accountability.

Despite having difficulties with Trump as a former President, did progressives ever laud the Abraham Accords as its evident benefit to Israel and the region?  Again, not once to my knowledge. We heard silence.

Why? Simply because it does not fit into their “progressive narrative”.

I am reminded of the words best enunciated by Yossi Klein Halevi that captures the progressive ideology, “ (Progressives are) that kind of Jew who (have) taken his people’s suffering and offered it entirely outward, in the service of other causes.

This sums up progressives and JSpace in but a few words. 

My Story

I joined JSpaceCanada, which describes itself as a “non-partisan, progressive Jewish organization” that serves “as a voice for moderation and social justice, both in Israel and Canada,” in late 2015. I did so because I wished to make a volunteer contribution to the discussion about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

At the time, I felt comfortable with the organization, which I would describe as a moderate, progressive group. But as I became active over the years, including as co-chair of the Program Committee, I began to notice a change. To my disappointment, JSpace appeared increasingly less balanced about the conflict, including the expectation that both sides have responsibilities. From my view, the organization was putting the onus almost entirely on Israel. 

As JSpace became more ideologically progressive, I detected a growing culture of “group think” when it came aligning with more established progressive groups. Increasingly, my involvement in the organization was becoming uncomfortable. I would leave meetings frustrated and upset with the course of discussions. 

For example, in 2019, during the review and amendment process to JSpace’s public brochure, I argued that it should state, in robust and unambiguous language, that Israel’s security was of paramount importance in any final peace settlement. My position was not accepted. One person even questioned, “What security issues?”

I also asked that the same brochure include, in addition to a line, which stated that “settlements were an obstacle to peace,” a sentence in the same paragraph indicating that Palestinian rejectionism of the last 70 years was also an obstacle to peace. This, too, was rejected. I called that decision “intellectually dishonest.” 

There were a couple of members who agreed with me, but, I would frankly say that I was generally seen as the group contrarian or “right-wing.” I hardly think balance and mutuality are right-wing.

In my view, progressive groups are evolving into non-or conditional-Zionist organizations. Not necessarily anti-Zionist, mind you. But then again not being an anti–Zionist does not make one a Zionist.  

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It is never really popular to defend Jews and Israel. Nevertheless, one must. That should have been the response when, in November 2019, Canada voted at the United Nations in favour of a UN resolution, co-sponsored by North Korea, referring to “occupied Palestinian territory,” including east Jerusalem, and seemingly putting the onus on Israel.

After the vote, JSpace issued two press releases. The first, which offered support for Canada’s decision, was rather weak, and so internal discussions were held to strengthen it. A second release itemized more of the resolution’s deficiencies, and yet it still invited the question of why JSpace supported the federal government’s move in the first place.

In effect, by taking a position supporting the resolution, JSpace placed the burden to resolve this conflict solely on Israel, ignoring factors such as the security challenges Israel faces, the several Israeli peace offers made and the constant rejection by the Palestinians including, foremost, their rejection of Jewish sovereignty within any borders, which is the heart of the conflict.

Author and New York Times columnist Bari Weiss has written that “to be a good progressive increasingly requires distorting Jewish history and disavowing the Jewish state. Telling the truth is not worth the risk to reputation, career, or social standing.”

But it goes deeper than that.

I can say from experience that many self-described progressives are not comfortable with their Zionism. Indeed, some are even embarrassed by it. They tend to identify with the Jew as deferential and quiescent. Two thousand years of Jewish passivity has left its mark on them. Israel and its security are near the bottom of their list of concerns. 

As a liberal pragmatist, I want to see reconciliation between Jews and Palestinians, with each having their own homeland. Yet, I ask, where are the expectations of the Palestinian leadership by JSpace when it comes to the Palestinian Authority’s systematic anti-Zionism and antisemitism?

There is only silence. And that’s why I left. 

JSpace Canada is one of the fringe far-left activist groups that attack the Jewish National Fund (Image: Twitter)

Nothing New from Progressives in 2021

And late last year, we came full circle and progressives including JSpace again supported the latest anti-Israel UNGA resolution. Just over a year later of my leaving the group and we witness a repeat debacle from 2019’s support by JSpace of Canada’s vote at the UNGA. The same mistake and no lessons learned.​

One cannot merely look to the wordsmithing outside of the Resolution by its supporters nor the Explanation of Vote to justify Canada’s support.​ One needs looks to the wording itself.​

Firstly, note the providence of this Resolution including North Korea, to which Canada joined.​

​I cannot think of one occasion when any resolution sponsored by such an illustrious gang of states to which a western democracy would side against a fellow democracy-Israel.

 What has happened to Canada’s position is as stated in the Canada-Israel Joint Declaration of Solidarity and Friendship of 2015 wherein it states, “Our friendship is built first and foremost on shared values. Our peoples share a passionate belief in, and willingness to defend, the principles of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.”

How is supporting this latest UNGA Resolution in line with the above? It’s not.​

Some maintain that Israel fulfilled its part in UN Resolution 242 when it returned 90% of the territories it gained lawfully in the Six-Day War (Photo: www.lzb.lt)

More importantly, the very words of the Resolution fly in the face of Canada’s stated

policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.​ Why?​

​Firstly, the Resolution prejudged the outcome of negotiations by, in effect, setting the borders by stating the Old City of Jerusalem and the Western Wall are part of occupied territory. No resolution should determine the outcome of negotiations, which should be decided by the parties themselves. It flies in the face of the Canadian position which states, “Canada considers the status of Jerusalem can be resolved only as part of a general settlement of the Palestinian-Israeli dispute. “

The resolution is indeed cleverly worded to appear to be calling for “a permanent two-State solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” based on the “principle of land for peace,” etc.  Prima facie this sounds wonderful. 

But where is the reference to UNSC Resolution 242 and 338, the bedrock of all Arab-Israeli/Palestinian-Israeli peacemaking, which requires, from the Arab side, the “termination of all claims” and, equally important, an “end of conflict” agreement before Israel is required to withdraw from territory taken in its self-defence war in 1967?  U.N. Resolution 242 does not prejudge the extent of any Israeli withdrawal. That’s to be negotiated.

Yet the resolution has determined in advance that all land east of the June 4 1967 line was “occupied Palestinian territory” which includes the Western Wall, the Temple Mount and the Jewish Quarter of the Old City.   The U.S. abstained on that resolution, allowing it to pass, and thereby allowing what needed to be determined through negotiations to be determined in advance by mere declaration.  So too this Resolution.

The point is that Palestinian leaders have declared their own self-determination more than once, but have never recognized Jewish self-determination (with the exception of Sari Nusseibeh in the early 2000’s – who paid a political price). And this Resolution only speaks to Palestinian people’s right to sovereignty and not the indigenous rights of the Jewish people to the same. That is the fundamental basis to any final solution.

So then, why is Space Canada supporting such a resolution? Such a position is not only inconsistent with stated Canadian foreign policy and UN Resolution 242, but it does not even reference “two states for two people’s”.

How is that bringing any solution closer?

With “progressive friends” like these, who needs enemies? 

Charles Cooke is a government relations specialist having recently graduated with a Post-graduate Certificate in Government Relations and a lawyer.

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Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

Thank you for choosing TheJ.Ca as your source for Canadian Jewish News.

We do news differently!

Our positioning as a Zionist News Media platform sets us apart from the rest. While other Canadian Jewish media are advocating increasingly biased progressive political and social agendas, TheJ.Ca is providing more and more readers with a welcome alternative and an ideological home.

We revealed the incursion of anti-Israel progressive elements such as IfNotNow into our communities. We have exposed the distorted hateful agenda of the “progressive” left political radicals who brought Linda Sarsour to our cities, and we were first to report on many disturbing incidents of Nazi-based hate towards Jews across Canada.

But we can’t do it alone. We need your HELP!

Our ability to thrive and grow in 2020 and beyond depends on the generosity of committed readers and supporters like you.

Monthly support is a great way to help us sustain our operations. We greatly appreciate any contributions you can make to support Jewish Journalism.

We thank you for your ongoing support.

Happy reading!

cOMING SOON…….

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